Noah Syndergaard outdueled Max Scherzer by tossing seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 win against the Nationals on Tuesday.
Syndergaard (4-2) struck out 10 batters -- including Bryce Harper twice -- and allowed five hits on 102 pitches. Scherzer (4-3), coming off a 20-strikeout game, also struck out 10 batters, but gave up two runs, three hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings.
"I've just been able, my entire life, to tune out whatever is going on around me," Syndergaard said after the game.
The game marked the first time opposing pitchers each had 10 or more strikeouts in the same game this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The last time that happened was Oct. 5, 2015, when Scherzer started opposite Matt Harvey.
"I think he rises to the challenge," Terry Collins said of Syndergaard. "It always helps when you have a horse you can ride on that mound. ... We played good, but we pitched great."
Syndergaard's only real trouble came in the second inning when he got Wilson Ramos to hit in to an inning-ending double play with one out and runners on the corners.
"He's special, man," catcher Kevin Plawecki said. "No stage is too big. No moment is too big. It only gets better."
Right now, Syndergaard is this team's ace, 100 percent. There is no question about it. It's not just that he's throwing the ball well; it's that he rises to the challenge, as Plawecki said. The Mets needed this game, in the same way the Nationals did, given how each team had been struggling of late. The crowd was loud, the game was important, it was highly anticipated, he was facing a guy that struck out 20 batters his last time out who is being paid $200 million, and yet Syndergaard stepped up. And, the reason he's acting as the ace isn't because of this one game; it's because every time he's asked to step up, he does it. He did it last summer against the Nationals on national television. He did it in multiple late season starts. He did it in the postseason, when asked to pitch in relief. He's done it all season and then again last night. He's been sensational.
Last night, it might be the best we've seen him. He mixed up his pitches, throwing them in all sorts of counts. He had total command of his arsenal and he consistently moved the ball around the zone. The Nationals were clearly guessing -- and guessing wrong -- all night. His battles against Harper were exhilarating, especially the final one, when he got Harper swinging at a 3-1 changeup then missing on a 3-2 slider in the dirt for the strikeout. It was brilliant. Every pitch came in the same way, on the same trajectory, then moved last minute, all of which he sets up with a Roger Clemens-like hard, inside fastball. OK, I'll stop gushing, but that's all anyone can do right now. He's been great.